Ocular Allergies

Allergic conjunctivitis can effect both eyes

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  • Red and itchy eyes1
  • Watery eyes1
  • Eyelids that are swollen1

Symptoms usually affect both eyes.1

Wearing contact lenses can result in irritation and severe infection can impair vision.1

Many people also have a runny, stuffy and congested nose.1


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The main causes of eye allergies are:

  • Pollen1
  • Household dust2 and dust mites1,3
  • Animal hair2 and feathers1
  • Certain foods (e.g. peanuts, walnuts, seafood, etc.)4,5

The allergens responsible for the allergic reaction must be identified and measures taken to prevent exposure to these substances.1,6
Although there is no cure for allergic conjunctivitis, you can find relief in certain treatments.5,7 More importantly, you can also prevent it from flaring up.5


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Whether at home or outside, there are many substances capable of triggering allergic reactions.1
Household dust and pollen from flowers tend to be some of the main causes of eye allergies.8,9

It is important to take measures to minimise exposure
and avoid eye allergens.1,9,10


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  • Avoid having curtains, rugs, carpets and furniture that tend to act as dust traps in your bedroom10
  • Use synthetic pillows and blankets and use mattress covers made with impermeable plastic or special dust mite-proof fabric1,5,11,12
  • Change air conditioning filters once a month11
  • Clean regularly with a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner.11 Do not use brooms or feather dusters6,9
  • If you have to do housework, wear an anti-dust mask5
  • Wash bed linen weekly at temperatures in excess of 60 degrees5,10
  • Keep your wool clothes in plastic zipper bags when they are not being used12
  • If you have pets, do not allow them into your bedroom5,11 and bath them every week to remove hair and other allergens3,11


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Pollens are the tiny egg-shaped male cells of flowering plants15

  • Look up the pollen count in the air before leaving the house5
  • If possible, stay at home on hot, dry, windy days and keep the windows and doors closed5,8
  • Take a shower and wash your hair at night to remove any pollen built up during the day13,14
  • Avoid mowing the lawn and stay away from recently cut grass13,15
  • Try not to do any outdoor activities during midmorning and early evening, which is when the pollen count is at its highest level1,5,14
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent the eyes from coming into contact with pollen1,5,14 and to protect them from the sun which irritates the mucous membranes in the eyes.16 Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also be effective13,16
  • Keep your car windows closed when your car is in motion15


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One of the most effective ways to manage an ocular allergic reaction is to minimise exposure and avoid eye allergens.1,6,8,19

In some people, airborne allergens may trigger an allergic reaction when they come into contact with the eyes.1,19

Mast cells respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals or substances. This causes the eyes to become red, itchy and watery1,19


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There are various topical agents available for the treatment of ocular allergy.5
They work through different mechanisms:

Mast cell stabilisers
Prevent mast cells (allergy cells) from releasing the chemicals that help cause inflammation and the allergic reaction to allergens.18

Block the effect of histamine, the chemical that triggers the allergic reaction to allergens.2,18

Antihistamines with mast cell stabilising properties
This class of drugs has both the above mechanisms of action.17,19

Narrow blood vessels in the eyes and reduce eye redness.1

Vasoconstrictor/antihistamine combination products are also available
This class of drugs has both vasoconstrictor and antihistamine mechanisms of action.19

For more information, and if you have the ocular allergy
symptoms described in this brochure, please see your optometrist,
ophthalmologist or healthcare practitioner. They are best placed
to advise you and make treatment recommendations.

For more information please visit: https://www.keepeyesinsight.co.za/


  1. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Eye Allergy [Homepage on the Internet] [Accessed 21/11/2018]. Available from: https://acaai.org/allergies/types/eye-allergy.
  2. Shroff Eye Hospital. Eye allergies and how to prevent them. [Homepage on the Internet] © 2017. [Accessed 23 Sept. 2018]. Available from: http://www.shroffeye.org/patient-information/conditions/eye-allergies-and-how-to-prevent-them/.
  3. De Shazo RD. Patient education: Trigger avoidance in allergic rhinitis (Beyond the Basics). Post TW, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. http://www.uptodate.com. [Updated 20 Feb 2018; Accessed 26 Nov 2018].
  4. Burks W. Patient education: Food allergy symptoms and diagnosis (Beyond the Basics). Post TW, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. http://www.uptodate.com. [Updated 6 Mar 2018; Accessed 23 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/food-allergy symptoms-anddiagnosis-beyond-the-basics/print.
  5. WebMD. Best treatment for allergies. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Accessed 23 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/allergies/everything-allergies?print=true.
  6. Trubert D. Eye allergy treatment. American Academy of ophthalmogy. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Updated 1 Sept 2018; Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/allergies treatment.
  7. WebMD. Which eyedrops help eye allergies? [Homepage on the Internet]. [Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-eyedrops#1.
  8. MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US). Allergic conjunctivitis. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Updated 13 Nov 2018; Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001031. htm.
  9. Optometric Care Associates. Don’t let fall eye allergies get you down. [Internet]. [Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.oca2020.com/2017/05/09/dont-let-fall-eye-allergies-get-you-down/.
  10. NCBI Bookshelf. Dust mite allergies: Overview. Informed Health Online. [Home page on the Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); © 2006 [Created 13 Jul 2017; Accessed 21 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447098/.
  11. Mayo Clinic Staff. Allergy-proof your home. [Homepage on the Internet] [Updated 6 Sept 2018; Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/in-depth/allergy/art-20049365.
  12. Medicinenet.com. Allergy treatment begins at home. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Accessed 21 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.medicinenet.com/allergy_treatment_begins_at_home/article.htm#allergy_treatment_facts.
  13. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Eye allergy overview. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergylibrary/eye-allergy.
  14. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Pollen Allergy. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Updated Oct 2015; Accessed 22 Nov 2018]. Available from: http://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/.
  15. Allergy Associates of New Hampshire (AANH). Allergies. [Homepage on the Internet]. Available from: http://www.allergiesnh.com/allergies.html.\
  16. Pollenwarndienst. Useful hints. [Homepage on the Internet]. [Accessed 26 Nov 2018]. Available from: http://www. allergiesnh.com/allergies.html.
  17. Ackerman S, Smith LM, Gomes PJ. Ocular itch associated with allergic conjunctivitis: latest evidence and clinical management. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2016 Jan;7(1):52-67. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707430/.
  18. La Rosa M, Lionetti E, Reibaldi M, et al. Allergic conjunctivitis: a comprehensive review of the literature. Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2013;39:18. [Accessed 26 Nov 2018]. Available from: http://www.ijponline.net/content/39/1/18.
  19. Hamrah P, Dana R. Allergic conjunctivitis: Management. Post TW, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. http://www.uptodate.com. [Updated 1 Dec 2017; Accessed 14 Sept. 2018].

ZA2111225121 Exp.: 10/2023

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